A modular facility providing additional capacity for endoscopy procedures was recently installed at the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.

A busy centre for endoscopy

The Prince Charles Hospital is a tertiary level metropolitan hospital and, as such, is a busy centre with high demand. Brisbane and its surrounding area is densely populated, and has a large older population. As the number of older people is growing and as many people relocate to the area from the South, demand for its endoscopy services has been rising.

The increased screening for bowel cancer as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening program has also contributed to added pressure on capacity. Having been in place since 2006, the scheme became fully operational in January 2020, with everyone between the ages of 50 and 74 across the country now being screened. The hospital lacked the capacity to increase service provision and did not have sufficient space to create additional capacity within the existing hospital building.

Planning and design

The team at Prince Charles had tried to add capacity through the private healthcare sector but were not able to get the required throughput. The criteria were not being met, and it was found to be too restrictive and the solution did not enable the hospital to meet demand.

Key priorities for the hospital’s management was to deliver additional capacity at speed, while still meeting national quality and assurance standards and ensuring both patient and clinical safety. It was decided that a new modular endoscopy complex would be created as an extension of the endoscopy department at the existing hospital site to help tackle waiting lists.

Planning and project design was done in close collaboration between the hospital teams, consultants and the contractors involved. From an architectural point of view, there were a number of challenges. Firstly, the site where the facility would be located was constrained in terms of space, meaning careful planning was needed, and there were some constraints around access too. The modules would need to be craned into a small targeted area within the busy hospital site.

The sloping ground provided a particular challenge, since the facility was to be connected to the existing endoscopy department at a similar level to provide patient and staff access. Patients would wait in the main building and be taken through to the new facility to have their procedure, so the connection needed to be seamless. To add to this, the area where the unit was to be sited had live services, such as power, water and drainage, running below ground, and parts of the site had vegetation on it, including mature trees.

A flexible solution

Q-bital Healthcare Solutions installed a two-room colonoscopy facility at Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane. The complex consists of a main endoscopy unit with two procedure rooms as well as scrub and utility areas, a separate 8-bed recovery ward with a consulting room, and an endoscopy decontamination unit (EDU).

A network of connecting areas were also created so that the three separate units could work as one consolidated facility, and disabled showering and toilet facilities were added. The facility is also fitted with electric sliding doors, air conditioning and a fire detection system, as well as an on-board Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant, and includes staff amenities.

The complex was designed to accommodate a complete patient pathway and as such includes decontamination facilities for flexible endoscope reprocessing. With HEPA-filtered environmental air and integral medical gas, vacuum and scavenging systems, as well as storage for endoscopes, it provides a safe and comfortable environment for both patients and staff. The facility conforms to Grade C EU Good Manufacturing Practices and all applicable Australian standards.

The new facility also had to fit in with existing flows of patients, staff, goods and waste. The team at Prince Charles looked carefully at how they could tweak the environment to fit the existing model of care and make sure clinicians were happy with their working environment. Each of the modular facilities had both a public entrance and exit, for patients and staff, and goods and services access points, and escape pathways.

A complete facility in just four months

The timescale was tight, but despite Covid-19 restrictions in place, Q-bital delivered the complete healthcare facility within just four months from the order. Careful planning was needed to meet the design challenges, but once the modules arrived, the building was installed very quickly. With a modular solution, the time on site is considerably shorter than with a traditional build.

Across the two procedure rooms, the endoscopy complex could provide an additional 450-500 colonoscopy procedures each month – or 6,600 each year – offering a significant boost to existing capacity. This will allow the hospital to keep on top of waiting lists and meet key targets even during periods of high patient demand, and to improve patient flows and address backlogs. The modular solution has provided a reliable, safe answer to capacity pressures.

Since opening for patients, a large number of procedures have been taking place in the facility, helping to reduce waiting lists for endoscopy, and the team at Prince Charles Hospital are very pleased with their new clinical environment, which is light and bright and built to high quality standards.

Ann Vandeleur, Project Nurse Manager at the hospital, says:

“The Q-bital solution works well. It was really important to have it placed where it is for patient, and clinical, safety. Having staff and equipment right next door to each other also allows us to be really efficient and effective. It means we can, for example, use the same admission process.

“While the unit is of course smaller, it is amazing what has been achieved in the space. It has been carefully designed to achieve everything we want and need it to, and at the standards we need. People couldn’t believe what was being created, and so quickly. Not only has it been delivered in a fraction of that time, it’s been delivered to the quality and standard we and our patients need and expect.”

Virtual tour

A video that takes the viewer through the facility is available below.


About Q-bital

Q-bital builds on twenty years of experience as a trusted partner to the NHS and private healthcare providers in the UK, and previous infrastructure projects across Europe as well as in Victoria and Queensland. This experience enables Q-bital to offer versatile, tailored and measurable solutions to help meet individual hospitals’ unique challenges.